Hello ,I have seen some formulas for DIY cables over the years. Have you checked the archives?
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One thing to remember - some amps do not like high capacitance speaker cables - it can cause some of them to oscillate, degrading the sound
In the u-byte2 article I looked at, the cables were rated at 800pf for a 5.5 meter cable - that's 145pf/meter
By comparison my DIY Van den Hul D-352 cables would be approximately 180pf for 5.5 meter cable - that's 32.5pf/meter.
Naim is one of those amps that performs better with low capacitance cables and they state this on their web site. Naim speaker cable is slightly lower - I believe around 20pf/meter
I did email Naim about the D-352 and they confirmed that although it was higher than their cable it was well within the operating limits of the amp
Just something to consider.
Is anyone able to any identify any brands for which high or low capacitance cables present problems?
My own personal belief is that some amps sound best with low capacitance cables and some amps sound best with higher capacitance cables regardless of whether they are solid state or tube.
But the type of speaker cable an amp works best with is seldom identified by amp manufacturers and this is one factor when trying to decide on which cable to purchase that should be understood by the owner of the amp before they commit.
To serve as a benchmark...
- Naim speaker cable is low capacitance rated at 20 pf/meter
- Kimber Kable - 8TC is high capacitance rated at 320 pf/meter
(Based on their web site - 2.5 meter is 820 pf)
I know you should always try to audition first, but as an example - Naim owners should not buy Kimber Kable based on Naim's own web site!
Or is Naim just trying to put the frightners on owners of their amps?
Are there any Naim amp owners running Kimber Kable out there?
Back to the music :-)
What do you want to accomplish, a listing of DIY projects that folks believe to be competitive with relatively expensive commercially made cables, or cables that offer
high performance for those of us who may not otherwise have the means to take advantage of current technology in an inflated marketplace?
There are many DIY constructions that have been reported to sound great, starting with a simple Lowes/Home Depot outdoor extension cord used as speaker cable and proceeding through projects that involve braiding cables until your fingers bleed.
I have made a wide variety of DIY cables, both from raw materials and from bulk wire. I have also modified existing cables. You can consider three categories;
1. DIY cables constructed from hook up wire and other basic parts or materials.
2. Bulk cable that is premanufactured and that you terminate with the quality/style connectors that you choose, and
3. Existing cables that either in their original form, or modified as you see fit, perform well above their price tag.
I have found varied and sometimes excellent success with all three of these options. I have great sounding interconnects based on the VH Audio DIY fine silver IC, but using different materials and slightly different construction. I also have made pretty good soundiing interconnects from a variety of bulk cable and bulk wire. Some have reported good success constructing cables from flat inductor material, sort of like some of the Mapleshade or Goertz cables.
My favorite speaker cables are made from modified manufactured cable that uses very high quality materials that would be expensive to purchase otherwise but is cheap when purchased by buying used cables. I also have another pair made from hook-up wire that I believe sound just as good but different from the modified manufactured cable pair - I could live with either.
Unfortunately, coming up with a reliable list will not be as easy as you might think because there are likely to be about as many opinions about what sounds good as there are people making or purchasing cables. Here's one, I have made several pairs of cross connected cables and IMO you can do better for less money and much less time by purchasing any number of pretty good manufactured cables and terminating them yourself. I still have a long pair of the quad style of cross-connected cable, which is the best sounding of the cross-connected cables (disclaimer - I have not heard the TNT copper foil variety) but have not used them in years.
Unfortunately, or fortunately if you find this stuff fun, the only way to really form an opinion about what works for you is to listen to some music on different cables.
Good luck with your projects.
Judging what "spanks" another cable is subjective and you will find many different views on these audio forums. In the end, you will need to make your own opinions based on listening. Since you asked, I will share some of the thoughts I have come to over the years, for your consideration.
Cables, essentially consist of materials (wire, dielectric, damping and casing), geometry (wire size and orientation, shield spacing, etc.) and connectors. Some cables include other features such as network boxes and powered dielectrics that my comments do not address.
I started down the DIY road first by necessity and then later because I did not find a significant sonic advantage between cables I made and cables I purchased from reputable and well-regarded companies, so I decided to put my money into audio components rather than cables. For reference, my gear is about $55 retail and my cables are perhaps $3K, which doesn't include my time to construct them, so the materials in my cables are about 5 percent of system value, or maybe approaching 10 percent compared to the used price value of my system components and speakers. One thing to point out is that many DIY cables are made using far less expensive materials and connectors than I have come to use. I have found there are some good "less expensive" connectors and wire but, there is really no free lunch. If you want to get close to some very good cables, it is my experience you will have to spend money on good wire or bulk cable, and on connectors.
There are many here who will tell you such and such a cable will, "bring their system to an entirely higher level"....etc. I will not argue with them because I probably haven't heard the cables they are talking about, but I have heard/owned well-regarded cables from good companies like Purist, Cardas, Audioquest, Harmonic Technology, Acoustic Zen and others. I believe, different cables do have the ability to make a system sound different but, after a certain point, I don't believe those differences are necessarily improvements, or at least not significant improvements. There are many here who would disagree with that observation.
As recommendations, I have found an easy method to construct very good sounding cables is to purchase bulk cables from reputable manufacturers and terminate them with high quality connectors. You can get that done easily within your $50 per meter price range. Furutech makes very good connectors for IC, speaker and power cables. You may also look at Oyaide for power cables. I am not a big WBT fan, except for their highest level binding post terminals, but that has nothing to do with cables. There are other good connectors, in particular I like Cardas SRCA rca connectors as a less expensive alternative to Furutech. There are many others to consider but I tend to like the full copper connectors from Furutech that are treated magnetically and cryogenically, especially for spades, and I tend to like crimped connections for speaker cables (using a heavy duty hydraulic crimp tool) and soldered connections for IC cables. My favorite balanced IC connector is the pricey FP601/601 from Furutech, although many like Xhadow and others. Vampire makes a pretty good, lesser expensive model, and so does Furutech.
For wire, I like solid core OCC copper (although I can see how some would like solid core silver). I like foamed dielectric as used in VH Audio's hook-up wire or Chela speaker cables, and also in the Harmonic Tech speaker cable line. I have also had excellent luck with the high purity (6N) solid core copper in cotton wire made by Jupiter Condenser Company, especially for ICs but also for speaker cables made in a star quad configuration.
For power cords, I am ok with stranded copper wire because it is much easier to bend, which is important to me since I keep my cords short. I like the higher level Furutech power cables but have also wanted to try Acrolink, which I suspect may be similar to my Isoclean power cable (my one non-DIY cable). The VH Audio Star Quad wire is ok, especially for amplifiers. I mostly stick with pre-manufactured bulk cable for power cords.
For ICs, I like the pre-braided copper in cotton cable from Jupiter or the VH Audio fine silver recipe using foamed caulk backer as the core. You can experiment with different wires and I have used a few. I am currently making a pair with VH Audio's OCC copper hook up wire. I like to shield the cables for protection against RFI/EMI and try to space the shield away from the cables using different methods. For balanced cables, I counter spiral the ground wire outside of the shield. For rca cables, and balanced cables, I connect the shield at the source end only and I always use a separate ground wire for balanced cables, I do not use the shield to carry the ground.
For speaker cables, I like multiple 22awg or smaller, individually insulated wires but have used a combination of larger wires for LF and multiple smaller wires for MF/HF in a bi-wire set up. These should be the same type of wire (e.g., same materials and dielectric from the same manufacturer). Star quad is a good configuration for speaker cables since it keeps inductance low. Many manufacturers use a simple twisted pair or braided cables like Kimber or the VH Audio Chela that I have wanted to try. I have also had good success chopping up Harmonic Technology wires and re-terminating them to my desired length, since they use multiple strands of excellent small gauge OCC wire in a foamed polyethylene dielectric. Crimp high quality connectors, or simply buy the length you need and use them as they come from the manufacturer since IMO they are a high "bang for your buck" speaker cable.
Materials vendors I have used with success include;
McMaster-Carr (for braid shield and misc.)
Take 5 Audio
I hope these comments help you get started. I recommend you also search the many other websites such as Audio Asylum (Cable Asylum), DIY Audio, and others. TNT audio's site has some interesting DIY information and of course the Cable Cookbook has been a source for many (I have not read it). The main thing is to try things and form your own opinion based on what sounds good to you. Good luck.
Along the same lines as Mitch2 - here are my current preferences...
Interconnects - I use Stagger Silver Solids - added my own ETI Silver Bullets- - low capacitance and very transparant with lots of detail
Speaker cables - Van Den Jul d-352 bulk cable with Furez silver plated bananas - excellent resolution and well balanced sound
Power cables - Furutech (personal favourite) shielded 10 gauge for the heavy lifting and DH Labs Encore shielded for the source components - both with Sonar Quest silver plated copper iec/mains connectors.
Prefer shielded power cables and connect the shield only at the mains connector.
With the power cables I found better performance was attained by crimping spades onto cables instead of just clamping the conductor in the connector - especially the 10 gauge cable. I have a quality crimping tool that crimps a 6mm wide joint.
Power Distribution Centre - a DIY project using Pass and Seymour outlets
With DhH Labs internal wiring. I used a "star" wiring scheme as opposed to wiring the outlets in parallel - prevents contamination across outlets.
Good luck with your projects
Okay, Mitch. That's a good start. Lots of insight borne of experience there. That's exactly the kind of response I'm asking for. I know that took some effort and I seriously appreciate it. Thank you. But I'd still like some input on what you've done in comparison to the high dollar cables out there. Name your price.